Today, Moshe Yudkowsky talked about revolutions and what causes them. His basic contention was that revolutions result from taking systems apart to separate concepts or structures that were previously bundled. That may be in the area of authority (such as the way that user-generated and selected content led from static web pages to community sites like Digg), mechanics, spacetime, and two other areas that I don’t remember. In Internet telephony, the revolution is largely mechanical, with the separation of the call bandwidth from its routing. The presentation then described how Internet telephony fit into the five classifications, though spacetime was curiously a set of question marks (”????”, plus a statement that people who figure this out will become quite rich).
We are only scratching the surface of VoIP and have yet to see the full implications the revolution, but a common thread to many of the presentations is to provide tools that enrich the context around a call. So many people use caller ID and a mental firewall that well more than half of the calls I make wind up in a voice mail box. In many ways, the separation of transport and routing makes VoIP even worse, since I have no idea where a call may land when I initiate it.
My own personal attempt to build some context into the calls I receive appears in the March 2007 issue of Linux Journal, where I built time zone awareness into the context of a call with Asterisk. Naturally, there are many other ways to build up the context around incoming calls, many of which have been demonstrated or talked about at the conference.